Day 1: Sydney
Arrive at any time.
Please make your own way to the joining hotel. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and enjoy exploring the city before joining the welcome meeting at 6pm.
If you arrive early enough, you'll have time to head into the city to visit The Rocks neighbourhood, the Australian Museum, Bondi Beach, or Darling Harbour.
Want to start your Down Under adventure with an adrenaline rush? Add the 'Sydney Adrenaline Bundle' or 'Sydney Bridge Climb' extra to your tour. Get an incredible view of the iconic Sydney Harbour from the top of the Harbour Bridge, then zip through the waterways on a jet boat ride if you book the 'Adrenaline Bundle'. PLEASE NOTE: if booking either of these extras a pre-night in Sydney is highly recommended as the Bridge Climb starts early in the morning on Day 1.
Day 2: Sydney
Enjoy a traditional welcome ceremony this morning, followed by a guided tour of the historic Rocks district. This waterfront neighbourhood marks the spot of the first European settlement in Australia, and holds a spiritual significance for the area’s indigenous people. In the afternoon, board a private yacht for a sunset cruise and barbecue dinner on the Sydney Harbour, taking in views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Includes: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Sydney/Port Douglas
Fly to Cairns and travel up the scenic coastal road to Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Embark on an interpretive walk with an indigenous guide at the lush Mossman Gorge, learning about the traditional ways of life of the region’s Kuku Yalanji people. Continue to the resort town of Port Douglas, our home for the next two nights.
We catch a very early flight to ensure we make the most of the day.
Day 4: Port Douglas
Enjoy a day of leisure in charming Port Douglas. Stroll the town’s boutique-lined streets and idyllic beaches, and opt to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Opt to pre-book the "Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling" activity on the checkout page ahead of time, to include this optional on your tour.
Day 5: Port Douglas/Cairns
Return to the tropical city of Cairns and visit James Cook University for a behind-the-scenes tour of its research aquarium, founded by marine biologist and National Geographic Grantee Dr. Jamie Seymour. Get an up-close view of some of the aquarium’s fascinating creatures, from sea snakes to box jellyfish, and hear about the latest aquatic research from Jamie or one of his colleagues.
Day 6: Cairns
Spend the day on your own in beautiful Cairns, relaxing at the beach or setting out on an optional excursion. Choose to go scuba diving or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, which teems with thousands of marine species, or hit the rapids of the Tully River on a rafting adventure.
Day 7: Cairns/Uluru
Catch a flight to Uluru, in the heart of the Australian outback. Visit the Cultural Centre of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park—a UNESCO World Heritage site—and learn about the beliefs and customs of the Anangu, the area’s traditional indigenous owners. Cap off the day with a glass of sparkling wine as you witness a crimson sunset over the fabled Uluru monolith.
Accommodations in Uluru are limited and of varying amenities. We do our best to secure a mid-range hotel, but on occasion a more simple accommodation with fewer amenities may be used.
Day 8: Uluru
Awake at dawn to take in an unforgettable sunrise over Uluru, then delve into a full-day exploration of the ancient, red-hued landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Set out on a guided walk around the base of the monolith, gaining insight into its sacred significance to the Anangu. Later, make your way to Kata Tjuta, Uluru’s neighbouring natural wonder. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore.
View the spectacular scenery from above and opt pre-book the "Uluru & Kata Tjuta Helicopter Ride" activity on the checkout page to include this optional on your tour.
Or, opt for a unique dining experience while watching the sunset over Uluru. Find details below and pre-book the "Sounds of Silence Dinner" on the checkout page ahead of time, to include this optional on your trip.
Day 9: Uluru/Melbourne
Enjoy one last sunrise over spectacular Uluru before catching a flight to Melbourne, known as the cultural capital of Australia.
Day 10: Melbourne
Spend the day exploring vibrant Melbourne. Set out on an optional excursion on the Great Ocean Road, one of the most picturesque coastal drives in the world; visit some of the region’s top wineries; or wander the city’s narrow cobbled lanes and alleys, discovering quirky cafés and colourful murals.
Day 11: Melbourne
Embark on a food tour of Melbourne with a local author and culinary storyteller. Home to many thriving immigrant communities, Melbourne has long been considered one of Australia’s gastronomic hubs. On this foodie walk through the city’s famed laneways, we’ll enjoy lunch at three popular venues and experience a range of flavours and cuisines. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Includes: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 12: Melbourne/Auckland
Fly to Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island, and enjoy free time in the city.
Day 13: Auckland
Take an orientation walk in Auckland, one of the most multicultural cities in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ll then catch a ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island, a haven of world-class vineyards and idyllic beaches. Visit two wineries to learn about New Zealand's burgeoning wine industry and the history of viticulture in the country while sampling some of the local blends.
Day 14: Auckland/Rotorua
Drive to the lakeside town of Rotorua, situated over an active geothermal zone and known for its volcanic features and rich Maori heritage. Stop en route at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and take a boat ride through this spectacular underground realm to see thousands of flickering glowworms light up in the dark.
Rotorua sits over an active geothermal zone with bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools in different areas around the town. This is a fascinating region with Maori history and culture tied directly to the geothermal aspects of the land.
Day 15: Rotorua
Spend a free day in fascinating Rotorua. Opt to explore a geothermal park, walking past bubbling mud pits and multi-coloured pools, or go on a white-water rafting excursion. This evening, visit Tamaki Maori Village and enjoy a private welcome ceremony; then sit down for an exclusive talk with a Maori elder, learning about the community’s traditions, myths, and legends. Later, we’ll witness a captivating performance of Maori folklore while dining on an array of traditional foods prepared in a hangi, or underground oven.
Includes: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 16: Rotorua/Christchurch
Enjoy time at leisure this morning before catching a flight to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. In the afternoon, meet with a local expert for a walking tour designed specially for National Geographic travellers, exploring the city’s lesser-known paths and learning about Rekindle, a social enterprise that offers workshops on resourcefulness.
With free time in Rotorua this morning, opt to relax in one of the hot pools fed by water coming directly from the natural springs.
Day 17: Christchurch/Franz Josef
Board the TranzAlpine train—one of the world’s most scenic rail routes—for a breathtaking journey through verdant plains, beech forests, and majestic, misty mountains. Disembark at Arthur’s Pass—the highest pass in the Southern Alps—and continue on a private vehicle to a rainforest lodge near the town of Franz Josef, our home for the next two nights.
Day 18: Franz Josef
Discover the natural wonders of the Franz Josef area on your own today. Opt to take a helicopter up to the stunning Franz Josef Glacier and hop out for an unforgettable hike on the jagged ice; embark on a guided interpretive walk that follows a riverbed along the glacier’s retreat; soak up in natural hot pools surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery; and more.
Day 19: Franz Josef/Queenstown
Set out towards Queenstown on a drive along the South Island’s magnificent west coast. Stop at tranquil Lake Matheson, where, on a clear day, you can capture a postcard-perfect image of New Zealand’s highest peaks reflected in the water. Continue to Queenstown, pausing for short walks through the rainforest and visits to picturesque waterfalls.
Early start to travel to the picturesque Lake Matheson. When the weather is right, you can get a great photo of the Southern Alps reflected in the lake. Follow the wild West Coast Road, through the rainforest before stopping for some short walks and waterfall visits.
Day 20: Queenstown/Fiordland National Park
Discover the glacially carved wilderness of Fiordland National Park on a cruise. Glide past shimmering waterfalls and towering cliffs, and look out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and little blue penguins with our naturalist guides. Depending on the season, we’ll spend the night onboard in comfortable cabins, enjoying time to relax on deck and watch the stars.
In the evening, enjoy a delicious three course buffet dinner prepared by our onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Mingle with fellow travellers, savour some of the fine wines at our licensed bar (additional price) and if the skies are clear in the evening, spend some time on the upper deck gazing at the stars.
Please note: your accommodations onboard this vessel are private cabins with en-suite bathrooms. Amenities onboard include viewing decks, a dining saloon, a licensed bar and an observation lounge.
Includes: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 21: Fiordland National Park/Queenstown
Rise early for a wildlife viewing cruise along the pristine fjord. Then navigate back to Queenstown and spend the rest of the day at leisure in this fun-loving lakeside town, known as the adventure capital of the world.
Day 22: Queenstown
The day is yours to explore Queenstown. Choose to go bungee jumping at the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site; get a bird’s-eye view of the mountain-framed city on a paragliding excursion; or visit a local winery to sample the region’s award-winning vintages. This evening, enjoy a cable car ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for panoramic vistas of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps.
Day 23: Queenstown
Depart at any time.
For more time to explore Queenstown, we recommend booking post nights with your agent if you are interested in the countless adrenaline-packed activities in the town known as the "adventure capital of the world." Jet boating, bungee jumping, mountain biking, and sky diving are some of the activities available.